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The National Guard requests quotes for expedited delivery of refrigerators to store COVID-19 vaccines

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General José Reyes, adjutant general of the Puerto Rico National Guard (GNPR), indicated that the government is in talks with several companies to receive in less than a month the special refrigerators required to store the vaccines from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer against the coronavirus.

“The GNPR is in the process of requesting quotes from various companies in the United States for the acquisition of Ultra Cold Freezers with a delivery date on or before December 15,” Reyes informed El Nuevo Día.

Reyes stressed that the short term is due to the fact that Pfizer requested this past Friday from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the approval of the use of its vaccine through emergencies.

“The FDA is evaluating Pfizer’s application and all submitted study papers. The FDA is meeting its Board on December 10 to determine Pfizer’s application, ”Reyes said.

Meanwhile, the GNPR is also waiting to know if some refrigerators that are already on the island can be certified. In addition, they try to complete the necessary inventory before the first vaccines start arriving.

“We are awaiting certification that they do indeed withstand temperatures of minus 80 degrees Celsius,” Reyes said.

He added that, at the same time, “we are in this process of meetings to see how we are going to acquire these equipment.”

“We have already had communication with about five companies in the United States that have this equipment and we are making it possible to acquire them., to develop the logistics plan with the Department of Health and acquire them, because we definitely need those refrigerators, “he added.

One million vaccines to Puerto Rico

Reyes participates in the process because the coordination of the distribution of vaccines has been delegated by the federal government to the United States Department of Defense.

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While awaiting the latest clearance from the FDA, the federal government has advanced the order for 100 million Pfizer vaccines to be produced. Within that order, one million vaccines will be shipped to Puerto Rico.

The general stressed that “the great challenge is going to be the transportation and hauling of this vaccine (from Pfizer), because you have to keep it at a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius below zero. In Fahrenheit, that’s 112 degrees below zero. “

“To give you an idea, if you are looking for the temperature of Mount Everest, which is the highest and coldest, these days the temperature has been 2 degrees Celsius below zero, and this has to be 80 below zero,” he added.

“It is a great section between 2 and 80. That is the great challenge. However, Pfizer has announced that the shipment of the first hundred million (vaccines) will be sent in boxes that look like boxes of chalk, “he added. “That box has its thermometer that keeps the temperature below 80 degrees Celsius for five days.”

He explained that this time can be extended with dry ice for “10 to 15 days to carry.”

“What we are working with Pfizer and (the Department of) Health is all this logistics of movement and transport, and storage, because in 15 days you are not going to vaccinate 1 million people in Puerto Rico. They will have to be strategically stored and distributed where vaccination is going to be done in Puerto Rico and that is what we are working hard on ”, he commented.

Reyes recalled that the first phase of vaccination will be for first responders, people over 65 and medical personnel.

Then, for phases 2 and 3, Reyes hopes that other pharmaceutical companies have achieved “positive results, since they have indicated that their vaccines do not require this level of temperature.”

He also stressed that those other vaccines only need one application and not two, like the first that would be available.

“I project that Puerto Rico and the United States will be immersed in a vaccination process throughout the beginning of the year and until mid-2021, until July or August,” he said.

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